carrot cake was his favorite

carrot cake | the merry gourmet

Oh, hello!

I didn’t intend to take such a lengthy break (a whole month!) from blogging. It just happened. I’ve sat down at my desk to write numerous times, and I’ve even amassed a small collection of first paragraphs. None of these were fit to publish, so they languish in a DropBox folder on my computer. If I were able to gather the many paragraphs I have written and then immediately deleted into one volume, I would have an impressive anthology of crap to show you.

This break would have been wonderful had I actually planned it. Instead, I have suffered through three-and-a-half weeks of guilt over not posting. I’m fixing that today.

My life has been occupied with work and family, but in a mostly good way. I’m also finding time to knit in the evenings and on weekends. I completed a shawl recently, one I hope to be able to wear when it gets chilly or during our summer vacation up north.  I’m trying to complete this wrap in the next few weeks. I’m so happy to be knitting, but I do realize that my evening and weekend knitting has partially replaced some previously carved-out writing time. I’m trying to find a balance.

I am also reading a lot. My life would be empty and sad without books. I’ve got three going right now: Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; and Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith, & Family by Pam Anderson, Maggy Keet, and Sharon Damelio. I’m listening to the first one on audiobook, and despite what my 11-year old daughter says, listening to a book does count as reading. I’m reading the second one on my Kindle, and the third one is a hardback book I received free from the publisher.

carrot cake | the merry gourmet

I’m over halfway through the Three Many Cooks book, and I’m really enjoying it, maybe even more so than I expected (though I knew it would be great, given who the authors are). The book is a memoir by the three women behind the Three Many Cooks food blog, and it’s written in their three voices, each one alternating chapters, with a recipe or two at the end of each chapter. I find that I’m bookmarking nearly all of the recipes to try later. The stories that Pam, Maggy, and Sharon tell are engaging, and as I’m reading, it feels as if I’m sitting down with them in their kitchen, sharing stories over cups of coffee. It’s a good feeling, and it’s a good book.

Despite the numerous savory recipes I’ve earmarked in Three Many Cooks, I knew I wanted to bake the carrot cake that Sharon shares on page 43 of the book. My father loved sweets, but of all desserts available to him, carrot cake was his favorite. I can’t recall a specific instance where I learned this. It’s just something I’ve always known, like the color of his eyes or the way he smelled.

I never baked a carrot cake for my dad, despite knowing that it was his favorite. Looking back, I think I thought I wasn’t capable of making a carrot cake that would please him, that it would not be good enough. I’m sure I also thought that I had plenty of time to make one. A whole lifetime, his and mine. Turns out, I was wrong, on both counts.

This was a great carrot cake. My dad would have loved it.

carrot cake | the merry gourmet

Yield: Serves 12-16.

Carrot Cake

I slightly adapted this recipe from Sharon Damelio's recipe for Perfect Carrot Cake in Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith & Family.

I omitted the cranberries and pecans in favor of a smoother textured cake, as I'm not a fan of nuts in cakes (or brownies or fudge, for that matter). When making the frosting, Sharon recommends leaving the cream cheese and butter on the counter for at least 4 hours, and I agree. I tweaked the frosting a bit, for our tastes.


For the cake:
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the frosting:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt
2-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, measured and then sifted


Make the Cake:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees, with the oven rack in the middle position. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with a parchment round, then butter and flour the pans, shaking out any excess flour.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, chop the carrots very finely to about the consistency of large couscous. Transfer carrots to a medium bowl and rinse the food processor bowl (you'll need it again).

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to blend thoroughly.

In the food processor fitted with the steel blade, mix the eggs and sugars until thoroughly combined. With the food processor running, slowly add the vegetable oil in a steady stream until well blended. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Add the carrots and stir.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the pans cool on a rack to room temperature before inverting them to remove the cakes. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt. Gradually add the sifted confectioner's sugar, beating until the frosting is light and airy (2-3 minutes).

Assemble the cake:

Put a small dollop of icing in the center of a cake plate. Place one cake on the plate. Using an offset metal spatula, evenly spread about 1 cup of the frosting over the top of the first cake. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread the entire cake with the remaining frosting and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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37 Responses to “celebrations and strawberry dream cake”

  1. Deborah Mele — June 28, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

    How pretty! I don’t like fussy desserts but this looks like something my family would love. Will have to wait for strawberry season next year to try it though. The cake means so much more with such feelings behind it. THANKS for sharing!

  2. Liz — June 28, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    Stunning cake…and I can only imagine how delicious!

  3. Sarah michel — June 28, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

    This is very similar to the strawberry cake I make, except I chop the strawberries and put them in the batter and use a strawberry meringue buttercream. Fresh strawberries really do make cake so delish! Since you can use frozen strawberries, you can really make it year round. I am going to give your recipe a try next week!

  4. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — June 28, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    Congrats MJ – 14 years is quite the milestone. And that cake? Well worthy of a celebration. Or, any day!!!! Hugs XOX

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 28th, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

      Aw, thanks so much, Mardi. Miss you!

  5. Kimmy @ Lighter and Local — June 28, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    I’ve been looking for the perfect way to use up the last of the strawberries I picked this week. I think I just found it.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 28th, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

      Do it. You won’t regret it.

  6. Gail — June 28, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

    Who could even read the recipe? I’m still wiping the tears away from the fact that your dad made the stained glass windows in the church that was your grandfather’s congregation. Then you hit me with your mother & your aunt’s birthday.

    Note to self: Always scroll down and read the recipes first.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 28th, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

      It really was an amazing wedding filled with tradition and meaning. Miss you, by the way.

  7. Kate @ Savour Fare — June 28, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    Lovely! We love strawberry cakes in our house too. And by we, I mean me. But I bake them! Happy anniversary!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 28th, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

      Ha ha! Thanks, Kate. We’re all fans here. 🙂

  8. Aggie — June 28, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

    Happy Anniversary!!! I absolutely love the pink hue in the frosting and knowing its the “real” deal…what a beautiful cake, and a beautiful post!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 28th, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

      Thanks so much, Aggie!

  9. Its true in so many ways, you have ‘Come a long way, baby.’ Huge congratulations on your anniversary, Happy Birthday to your Mom and Aunt and good for you for finding a way to keep the tradition of the cake alive but in a manner that reflects your continued journey towards making it fresh and fabulous!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 28th, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

      Thanks, Barb. Yes, it’s been a continuous journey and I’ve had so much fun along the way!

  10. I’ll definitely be having dreams about this one!

  11. SMITH BITES — June 28, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

    congrats to you and the Mr. MJ – you’ve got one year on me and The Professor but they have been the best years of my entire life . . . and that cake looks divine!!

  12. Beautiful cake! I love strawberries but not the artificial flavored cakes, your recipe sounds dreamy. Happy anniversary.

  13. DessertForTwo — June 29, 2011 @ 12:41 am

    Aww, happy anniversary! 🙂

  14. Jane — June 29, 2011 @ 1:45 am

    Congrats! 70 years ago today my grandparents walked down the isle. And last Thursday I celebrated my birthday with a strawberry/chocolate cake with strawberry, chocolate cream cheese, and caramel icings! Big cake, big flavor!

  15. Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — June 29, 2011 @ 8:17 am

    This looks fantastic!

  16. Milena — June 29, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    What gorgeous strawberries!!! Where I live is way too hot and humid to provide strawberries like this… nevertheless the ones we have here are quite tasty! This cake is definitely in my “to bake” list, it looks so beautiful…

  17. Paula — June 29, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

    Every wedding is a blessed event but to have yours take place in the church who’s windows your own father made, to have your grandfather officiate your ceremony and to have had it on your mother and aunt’s birthdays just makes it a occasion that was not only blessed by God but also, so deeply personal by some of the people who mean the most to you. Happy Anniversary and may you be blessed with many, many more happy years together and be able to share them with those you love.

    Your cake…beautiful!

  18. Liren — June 29, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    Happy Anniversary! What a blessing to have been surrounded by so much love and guidance – I can’t think of anything more meaningful.

    This cake is just gorgeous – I know I have had my share of hideous cakes in my lifetime – this, MJ, is absolutely worthy of celebration.

  19. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — June 30, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    My hubby would love this! He had to have strawberry cake for our wedding, and he constantly requests it… I’m bookmarking this recipe! 🙂

  20. Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — June 30, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    Looks so good! Perfect for summer. Happy Anniversary!

  21. Baker Street — July 1, 2011 @ 1:10 am

    Happiest anniversary M.J! and happy happy birthday to your mom and her sister.

    Your cake is just perfect! Lovely, just lovely.

  22. Jennifer (Savor) — July 2, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

    Happy Anniversary! Our is 10 years this year.

  23. My mouth is totally watering right now! Will be making this at some point for sure.

  24. Tracey — July 14, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

    Happy Anniversary, what a gorgeous cake!

  25. Rochelle — July 28, 2011 @ 4:52 am

    Would someone please actually make the recipe instead of just gushing over how good it looks!

  26. Pingback: It’s My Birthday, Let’s Talk Cake! | Not Rachael Ray

  27. Holly — August 15, 2011 @ 9:17 am

    I tried making this cake and didn’t think it was that successful. In the recipe it doesn’t say how much vanilla to add. Tasted like a strawberry shortcake and the frosting was too much like strawberry flavored cream cheese. I add more strawberries and sugar to frosting.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 15th, 2011 @ 9:39 am

      Holly – I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. Thanks for pointing out the error in the vanilla measurements. I’ve just corrected it – should be 2 teaspoons.

  28. sonya — April 17, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

    I love this cake. I spilled some of the strawberry part the first time and it didn’t turn out quite right, but I’m so glad I gave it a go again. this is a truly special cake. it also makes fabulous cupcakes which are easy to top with a slice of fresh strawberry each. which reminds me, I love cooks country magazine so much too! down home cooking, but made as tasty and flavorful as you can imagine, and also fool-proof….what’s not to love?

  29. Megan — January 12, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

    If I do not have a stand mixer, do you have any recommendations for the instructions for mixing?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 12th, 2015 @ 7:51 pm


      I’ve only ever made it in a stand mixer, but I’m sure you could use a regular hand mixer, too. Or, if you put a lot of strength into the mixing, you could try it using your muscle power!

      Good luck!

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